The lapel of a coat, whether it be top or suit is a terrible thing to waste. If you are in a particularly presidential or maybe a patriotic mood, a flag pin will suffice, but this is one place where being a (restrained) dandy can really work. You can really add some personality.
For as long as I can remember I have liked collecting lapel pins. Wherever I have travelled in the world, I have always tried to find a unique lapel pin to commemorate my trip. When I was in elementary school, I bought pins because they were the cheapest souvenir, but as I got older my pins found their way onto my school blazer, and I started collecting in earnest – and looking for something unique.
Over the course of the decade, I have amassed quite a serious collection ranging from Far East Asia, to Europe, and the Americas. Nowadays, almost every designer brand is making lapel pins, but to me, the unique pins that come with a story remain the best. While a trip to a Ferragamo outlet near you, will no doubt give you a covetable bit of lapel bling, that is all that it will ever be. Instead, in my opinion try looking for something unique that really represents you.
While I have a few very collectable pins ranging from the unique to the antique, these rarely every find their way onto my jackets, simply because they are irreplaceble. Instead, I usually opt to wear a few out of my collection in a regular rotation that match my jackets and shirts and are of sentimental value to me.
For instance, with most of my blue or brown toned jackets (including my beloved Barbour Ashby) I usually wear a copper mustang pin that I bought from a souvenir shop in Phoenix during a long layover. Overtime the copper has taken on a bit of a patina which just adds to how good this pin looks and I am certain that it will find itself on my jacket for years to come. The pin cost me about four bucks, and every time I put it on, it adds something unique to what I wear.
While I most often wear my mustang pin, I do have a close second. My sister went to Disneyland with her family, and they brought me back a wonderful, vintage Mickey Mouse pin. This one is gold-tone antiqued brass, and looks great with the same blues and browns which form a good third of everything in my closet. Overtime, its picked up a few nicks and dents of my own to add to its history and for me wearing it is a reminder family.
For the rest of grays and blacks which form the remaining two-thirds of my closet, I have a few silver toned pins that have some really interesting stories that go with them. My favorite, and one that is special to anyone that could read in 1997, is a Gringotts Goblin pin in cast pewter.
Last year, in remembrance of my childhood, I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and I saw one of the ushers wearing a beautiful pin that I simply had to have. I had hoped to find it in the souvenir shop, but alas, of the hundred or so styles that were available in store, the Gringotts pins were nowhere to be found. Luckily for me, I asked the usher if I could buy it from her but she graciously took it off and gave it to me. I will thank her till the end of my days because my collection would never be complete without her.
Another silver-tone pin that I wear very often is my Corsair AU1 pin from the Smithsonian in Washington DC. Personally I really like old airplanes, cars and motorcycles and pretty much anything to do with to do with those finds its way into my closet in some small understated way. Museums happened to be excellent places for pin hunting and when I walked into the Smithsonian the first time in 2004, I was ecstatic. Planes, Planes Planes! Pins, Pins, Pins! Everywhere.
Based on the pins I wear regularly, there are a few aesthetics that I abide by. Notice that all the pins are monotone, and while there are times and places where being festive is right (I have a red heart pin that I wear on Valentine’s Day) , your every day pins need to be more understated. This is also one place where size really matters. Under or around an inch is fine, but anything more is veering awfully close to barista level flair which is only acceptable if you are a real barista.
It is also imperative to understand that pins are inherently ostentatious. Even a simple one is a sharp swerve into dandy territory, and so it is best to stick to a single piece of flair. If you wear a pocket square, keep it clean, white and simple because your lapel and the area around it should not overpower the rest of your look – it should compliment it.
Last and probably most importantly, any pin you choose should be something that represents you. I like planes, cars and bikes and so for me, pins with any of those are a simple way to silently talk about what I love. What interests you?